Today in History:

1071 Series I Volume XXV-I Serial 39 - Chancellorsville Part I


I will furnish in a few days a map, or itinerary, of the route passed over by the different portions of this command.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Colonel and Chief Quartermaster, Cavalry Corps.

Brigadier General M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General, U. S. Army.

No. 3. Report of Captain Wesley Merritt, Second U. S. Cavalry, Ordnance and Mustering Officer.


COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the part taken by my command in the recent expedition during my forty-eight hours' absence from headquarters:

In obedience to instructions from the major-general commanding, I started on the night of the 2nd instant, with a command of about 50 men, including pioneers, to destroy the bridges and fords, as far as practicable, on the South Anna River, below Yanceyville. The bridge at that point and the one a few miles below it were left intact. The second bridge below Yanceyville I destroyed, as also a ford at Paine's Mills, some miles below. Farther down still, my party destroyed two other bridges, one near the mouth of Allen's Creek and the other at the mouth of Flemings' Creek. In the meantime I met General Gregg, who detached pioneer parties to aid in the work of destruction, and two additional bridges were destroyed, one the Ground Squirrel Bridge and the other the Factory bridge, some miles above. These bridges were all strongly built, and averaged 50 feet in length. The work of destroying them was necessarily arduous, and consumed time. They were all effectually destroyed by fire and the axes of the pioneers, so that they cannot be rebuilt save by preparing new material for their construction.

About an hour before sundown on May 3, General Gregg detached a command under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, First Maine Cavalry, which, together with my detachment, proceeded, with a negro for guide, via Ashland, to destroy the railroad bridge over the South Anna. The distance being greater than we anticipated, we did not reach the railroad depot, about three-quarters of a mile from the bridge, until 9 o'clock at night. Here we captured and paroled 6 Government employees, carpenters, &c., from whom we extorted information to the effect that there was a strong guard at the bridge [lately posted]. This was afterward confirmed by the force under Colonel Smith, which pushed toward the bridge, driving in the enemy's pickets, and discovered artillery in position. In the meantime my command fired the depot buildings, burning a quantity of ammunition, stores, and tools of workmen engaged on public works. A large amount of cord-wood near the depot was burned, as also a culvert on the railroad, and the track, as far as practicable, for some distance. The telegraph line was cut in several places and the wire carried away and secreted.

Captain W. H. Graffin, commanding my detachment of the Firs Maryland Cavalry, together with his subordinate officers and entire command, exhibited the most untiring energy in carrying on and perfecting the